So, some of you may or may not know, but I was asked to take a position at the local elementary school teaching English a couple times a month. It’s not much really, but it’s been a whole new experience for me into a side that I’ve not had the opportunity to see into yet.
One of the most interesting things that I noted was lunch time. Although I don’t have to, I’ve been eating with the classrooms and sitting with the students to be able to establish more relationships within the school.
It’s a vastly different experience that what I’ve seen elsewhere. The students eat in their classroom with the teacher. A lunch cart is rolled in front of each classroom. The students set out a cloth mat on their desk and everyone puts on a mask until lunch time (making it difficult for me to understand them!).
A handful of students put on white smocks (and gloves? I don’t remember) and serve the other students as they go through the line. Once all students are served and seated, then one student calls out a check to make sure that everyone has received everything. Some announcement is made then everyone says:
“Itadakemasu!” (I humbly receive)
Time to eat!
I literally watched this procession and the smoothness of it all (given the quirks of first graders) as if I were watching a sci-fi movie. It was completely astounding to see these kids all serving and later properly disposing their plates and dividing their trash, as per… well… Japan.
Overall, in my experience, I am just amazed at how these kids behave. Children entering the main office open the door and announce themselves and their purpose before proceeding. Students come down to “retrieve” me from the office and carry my belongings to the next class.
At the teacher’s command, a student will stand and make announcements about what’s going to happen next.
It’s all quite fascinating. Besides getting to know the teachers and vice-principal, I’ve had the opportunity to glimpse into the types of “conditioning” that the students grow up with. Growing up in the American school system, we are conditioned as well (just in different ways), so it’s not a bad thing I’m talking about. It’s just the foundation for how they will move in that society later on.
I’m glad I took the time to eat lunch with these little ones!
*There are some schools that do eat in a cafeteria setting or that students have to bring their own lunch, but many operate just like this public school I’m at.